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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Repaired Chimney

When we bought our house back in 2004, we knew it was going to need some work in a few years.  Well, all that work seems to have hit in 2012, now that the house is 29 years old. 

We can no longer put off replacing the roof.  And it's a big roof.  We also have 4 skylights that started leaking, and a brick fell off the corner of our chimney into the pool (no one was near the pool - so no one was hurt, but still!).  Probably years of hail damage.

There are gobs and gobs of other projects that need to be taken care of, but we knew The Roof was 2012's most critical project.

We had three companies out to give us roof quotes.  We chose our company, but found out the chimney needed some really serious work done, and that had to come first.

2 masons came out and studied the issues and BOTH DECLINED the job saying they just couldn't manage the job.  This was going to be a BIG job.  Uh oh.

Then the mason that our roofing company recommended came out, and agreed to take it on.

Of course, they were ready to start the chimney repairs THE SAME DAY that my sister and nieces arrived.
It all worked out though.

I took these photos, but actually had to ask David to send me an email documenting what we had done to the chimney because it the laundry list was so long that I knew I'd mess up the description.

So here is David:
The mason tore down the structurally weak brick.  He repaired all the bad brick on the chimney, poured a new cap, sealed it with a water repellent and put on the 4 chimney covers.

We didn't build it back the way it was because 1) it was a dumb design in that the steel rusted and started to collapse under the weight of the bricks, and 2) the steel is very heavy and he didn't know a safe way to get it into position.

And there you go.  The top 3 feet of the chimney were in horrible, horrible shape.  We're lucky we didn't have more bricks fall onto our decks or onto the roof. 

We are thrilled that this project is complete.  It's been a long time coming.

And now, some photos.

Before - you can see the spot where the brick on the front left corner fell off, tumbled down the roof and landed in the pool.  And our roof really needs to be replaced - it's so obvious in this photo.  And that's the broken skylight that drips a steady stream when it rains.  Oh, and the house needs to be painted.  OK, stop looking.

Our mason was pointing out various issues including these structures hanging down from inside the 3 windows in the chimney.  Apparently they're not supposed to be drooping.  And they're corroded.  And chimneys weren't sealed back then and desperately need to be.  And we've had at least 2 squirrels fall down the chimney into our bedroom fireplace.  Need I go on? 

You can see the space in between bricks towards the top.  Apparently this was the case for several feet of bricks, much more visible the higher you got up.

One morning, sitting on the computer upstairs, I started watching the machinery arrive.

Serious scaffolding.  Removed most of the fence from around the pool pump and (broken) pool heater.

This was a serious job.

I snapped this as we were leaving to go to lunch one day.
I felt pretty bad heading out to lunch with family while they worked way up high in the 100* heat.
I did not envy them, but thank goodness they would take on our job!

And the finished chimney.

Finished.  Safe.  Cleaned.  Squirrel Proofed.  Sealed.
Ready for New Roof and Skylights later this Fall!

Basement Renovation - Phase 1

I use the term "renovation" loosely.  It's really a re-purposing of unused space.
It's probably closer to redecorating than renovating, but I am not expert in either so who knows?

Regardless, we're taking steps to turn unused areas into a functional and flowing space, and I love it!  I especially like that David and I are taking this on together, taking it a step at a time.

Basement Re-Do Goals:
So here are some photos and Phase 1.
Warning - there's a lot of browns.  Color is a goal for this area!

Our basement has the boys' rooms and bathrooms, a guest bedroom, small playroom, and family room that David and I rarely use - it's really the boys' space.  But behind all that is a long room that never really gets used.  Here's looking from Thomas's room down the long basement area.

You'll see the bar portion of a bar/stools set that we purchased to have out by the pool.  Rarely used, floats around outside and indoors.

You'll see a pretty sun room area that never gets used because the wicker furniture is old, abused and not comfortable to sit in and read.

You'll see an empty wall to the right with a blanket hanging, a piece of art that got put there for some reason recently, and no purpose or interest.

From the other end.  You'll see my glider that I absolutely love but it has been abused and neglected, and the only people who use it are children who "take it for a ride" rather than enjoy it to read in.

Also, a tall lamp that is never used, and a keyboard that is lonely down there without the kids' drum set that recently went to another kid's home.

Since these photos were taken in the summer, I'm surprised there aren't two boys camped out in these chairs playing video games.  They must have been at camp.  Actually, they had to have been gone, otherwise EVERY LIGHT IN THE BASEMENT would have been on.

Abuse!  These chairs have been abused by toddlers and time.  A well-placed throw has worked for awhile.

This abuse just makes me want to spit sigh.  Those are Nintendo DS stylus scratches in the arms of my beloved glider that David bought me for the boys' nursery - for rocking my babies in.  They clearly need to be sanded and re-stained.  Might get the offenders to help with this project.

This area is a future Phase of this basement re-do.  I like the wicker but it's not practical.  I've got ideas for turning this into a family-friendly usable space, but that's later.

Phase 1 - The Empty Wall

For awhile David had a pool table in mind for this space.  We were waiting for the boys to get old enough where we wouldn't worry (as much) about a billiards ball being thrown through a window pane.  Then David did the research and we discovered the space is too narrow for a normal sized pool table.  We'd have to go with a smaller size, and what's the point?

I did not want to buy a bunch of furniture to fill up the space, either, so this space has been pretty much as-is since we moved in 8 years ago. I wanted function first - not just a filled up space.

First World Problem Alert
Our kitchen and the pool are quite a distance from each other.
What I wanted more than anything was a place to put food when we entertain downstairs (girls' movie nights, etc.) or out by the pool.  More than anything, I wanted a countertop.

We popped into Lowe's to look at custom cabinets/countertops and found In-Stock Cabinets and Countertops.


We had three 30" cabinets installed with an 8' countertop.
The install technician also put in an electrical outlet area where we could have a dedicated light.
(We have all 4 globes now, updated pictures soon).

You can't tell from this photo but the cabinets are evenly centered on the wall.  And I LOVE THEM.

Look at all that great storage! 

And we love the countertop - the backsplash and the beveling and the color and the pattern.

In fact, we like it so much, that David suggest we do the same on the OTHER side of the stairs.

Here's a photo of this other wall (on the other side of the stairs) just before we moved in.
The previous owners had picked up this old office furniture and had it installed.
While functional for the boys and their computer, David has always considered it a real eyesore and was only to happy to rip it all out and haul it off!

Thomas helped spackle, we painted last night, and will have our new cabinets/countertop installed here soon.  What to do with all that extra cabinet space???  yeah!

Phase 1 Complete, and I am thrilled!!!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

What I've Been Reading - July 2012

I am joining Rick Jill at Art@Home for her next Literary Friday, sharing with you what I've been reading this month!

Our evening book club, The Litwits, was hosted by Sam & Alexa this month, for a very different kind of book club.  And it was so much fun!

Sam & Alexa own 240Sweet, a gourmet marshmallow company.  I love seeing their marshmallow story pop up in places like O! Magazine.  They are also very busy caterers.  They always host a great evening for the Litwits.

We met at the 240Sweet shop for dinner.  Everyone was asked to cook a recipe out of one of their favorite cookbooks, and bring the dish and recipe to the Litwits dinner.  We went around the table sharing why we chose that cookbook in particular, and what we had brought to serve.  What a fun idea, and I got some great ideas for new recipes.

Excuse all the iPhone photos...

Mama, this is for you...

Stacy makes the absolute BEST macarons!

You would think all we had were desserts, from these photos!

The talent in this group is amazing...

mmm, there's Leigh's remoulade sauce again - so delicious!

A great time to enjoy some delicious food and talk about a special kind of book!

I finished two non-health related books since my last post. 
I'm not the steady reader in the summer months - too busy outside I guess!

I've had Classical Music for Dummies next to my bed for a long, long time.
I finally finished it this month.
The family had a really good time going through the first chapter together over dinner each night for a few months. 
The first 80 page chapter covers the important composers starting back with the Monks and leading up to the 20th century.
We learned a lot about the composers themselves, and about the different styles of classical music that have evolved over the last 500 years.

I then finished the book on my own.  This is an absolute fantastic book if you are interested in learning more about the subject.  The two authors, famous composers themselves, have written a hilarious book that keeps you engaged the entire way through.

Loved It

And then my turn finally came at the library for the second installment of Veronica Roth's Divergent series - this one titled Insurgent.  I really liked Divergent, and was excited about the follow-up and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT.  The story picks right up where the first one left off, and was non-stop the entire time.

If you aren't familiar with this series, it's somewhat similar to The Hunger Games.  I highly recommend it.  Veronica Roth is very young - she finished the first book while still in college.  I see a great writing future for her!

Loved It

And that's what I've been reading! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July Wine Club - Piña Coladas by the Pool

Our "Wine Club", aka The Connoisseurs, has really morphed in the last year and a half. 

What started as a wine tasting event with ratings sheet and prizes as in these months where we sampled and rated Zinfandels, Chardonnays, and more, has morphed into a fun theme night with a delightful group of people.

This month's event, Piña Coladas by the Pool, was an absolutely fantastic time!

Hosted by Rob and Lora, we had a wonderful, wonderful night.

Super cool poster welcomed us

Steve the Master Bartender prepared a number of delightful Piña Coladas - I can personally vouch for the Strawberry Banana and Florida.

Tricia and Lora

Mary, Ginger, and Leigh

John and Jeff

Rob, Charlie, Mary, and Mike

I was so excited that Lora and Rob chose the same weekend that my sister Shelly was in town with my nieces!  Shelly got to join us for Wine Club. 

Shelly with Rosann and Baby Emma.  Poor Emma - my flash was too much for her eyes.


Lora and Baby Emma (please Miss Bonnie, turn off that flash!)


Ginger and Emma

So sweet!  Mom (Rosann) and a sleepy Emma

We had another baby in the house - Addie Grace, who enjoyed attending the party with Dad Rob.

As I always say, the food at these get togethers is amazing!  Take a look!

We all want Leigh's remoulade recipe (hint, hint/reminder)

John outdid himself with wonderful appetizers

I know David enjoyed this beautiful pineapple upside down cake (at least one slice!)

And Mary outdid herself with these delicious chocolate desserts

It was a gorgeous night and we enjoyed the end of the evening sitting around the pool, catching up with great friends.

Looking forward to next month at Jeff and Karen's for Mexican!